Guess what’s driving new car sales across Europe?
Recently we looked at the sales performance for the European premium midsize segment for the year to June, which threw up little by way of surprise to say anything of delight. So today in hope of better fare we’re focusing on the broader European sales figures for the year to August, courtesy of left-lane.com. Despite recent political turmoil across the region, the underlying trend continues to be upwards (for now at least) and unsurprisingly, the usual suspects remain locked in the top spots – notwithstanding some gratuitous rearranging of deckchairs.
What we’re looking at here today are manufacturers who’ve posted the most significant gains over the first eight months of the year, beginning with Honda, who are clawing their way back into the hearts and minds of the European car buyer with an overall sales hike of 32.5% over the same period last year. The bulk of this rise can be attributed to a fresh (if uninspired) lineup; with the Jazz up 20.3%, the Civic 10% and the HR-V gaining an impressive 12,126%, now that deliveries have begun in earnest. The power of dreams? More like the power of prayer.
JLR continue their upwards trajectory, European customers knuckling down to life with more roar as Jaguar deliveries rise 82.7% over the period. Most of this is down to the the ‘not-Jaguar‘ pairing of XE and F-Pace. Interestingly, perhaps the only Jag worthy of the name also gained 14% – a decent performance for the XJ, which is strictly niche fodder nowadays. Land Rover also continue their trek above and beyond, with overall sales up 22.1% to August. Their big hitter being the Discovery Sport which has finally hit its stride, with a 70.7% uplift.
FCA’s Jeep brand also gained ground, 22.7% more Europeans heeding the call to adventure thanks to the continued appeal of the Renegade model. Mazda too is on the rise, the CX-3 gaining a hefty 331.8%. The B-segment Mazda 2 also posted a rise of 15%, mitigating falls for the Mazda 6 saloon. Overall, the Hiroshima-based brand zoom-zoomed up 20.4% in the year to August.
The other big winner is Ssangyong, whose ‘IloviT’ proposition is proving a popular choice with budget conscious buyers. Sales for the Tivoli hatch are 352% better this year, with Ssangyong itself gaining a noteworthy 52% overall. Others posting large percentage gains are Bentley (+38.7%), Cadillac – (+46.1%), Infiniti – (+168.5%), Lada – (+73%), all of whom have joined the crossover camp. However, before anyone gets too carried away, these figures are from such an exceptionally low base as to make little or no difference to the broader market.
A quick digression by way of observation. Keeping a revenant on life support is a lot cheaper and a good deal less hassle than creating a little monster of your own. Because this year’s figures once again demonstrate the continued resilience of ossified Lancia, whose Ypsilon remains mystifyingly buoyant, rising 13.3% during the period. Nevertheless, the message doesn’t seem to be translating all that clearly into French, illustrated by DS’ continued loss of volume, down 4.4% since August last year. Fascinatingly, within this period, Lancia and DS posted virtually identical total volumes – Lancia achieving this with a single model line against DS’ three. Worse still, the slowest selling but potentially most profitable DS5 has slumped to the level of the ‘death at one’s elbow’ Citroen C5. How long can PSA continue to spin this positively?
Looking across the wider market however, it’s apparent the only real show in town is the accelerated elevation of crossovers. I know, it’s hardly a shock, but it’s news and I’m reporting it. But are customers actually gravitating towards butch-backs in ever greater numbers or is the unrelenting marketing message successfully hammering the message home? I guess it’s probably a bit of both, but no matter which way you slice your onions, the market is heading in only one direction – crosstown.